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Library blitz easily tops goal

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The “Building for the Future” campaign had been driving to raise the final $35,000 needed to meet its fundraising goal of $750,000 in recent weeks, but overwhelming community support actually pushed that total to just under $89,500.

That, in turn, boosted the overall campaign total to nearly $804,500.

Campaign chairman Mark Kowalchuk said the “Drive for 35” phone blitz, which ran Sept. 22-26, was successful in its own right, but the increased awareness of the campaign being so close to its goal spurred on donors to keep giving all last week to help make the new Fort Frances Public Library and Technology Centre a reality here.

“There was a large number of people that came forward,” noted Kowalchuk, adding some donors were giving for the first time while others were topping up previous pledges to get their names on the donor recognition list.

Pledges ranged from $50 to $5,000.

“There was a groundswell of support. It’s amazing how that $5,000 donation [by OSSTF president Paul Elliott] kind of kicked things off [for the ‘Drive for 35’ campaign], and then the groundswell increased almost exponentially,” Kowalchuk enthused.

“It grew so rapidly and so greatly over those five days,” he remarked, adding advertising and media coverage truly helped raise awareness of the final fundraising push.

Kowalchuk said pledges came in not only from Fort Frances residents, but district residents who come into town to use the library as well as former residents living elsewhere in Canada and abroad.

Some pledges even came from individuals as far away as Grand Cayman Island and Guatemala who read about the drive on www.fortfrances.com

Kowalchuk said although he always was hopeful the “Drive for 35” would be a success, even he was a little surprised by how well it went.

“When we were going into that first day of phone calls, and even when the ads were going in the week before, I, in my mind, thought, ‘This is great we’re doing this. Even if we don’t reach the goal and we have to raise another $15,000 outside of the blitz, then we’ll do that.

“[Library board chair Joyce Cunningham], on the other hand, was even more confident than I was, and she thought about $785,000. But as we made the $750,000 and then $785,000, our jaws dropped with each increasing amount.

“We were especially appreciative of the fact people weren’t waiting for phone calls,” added Kowalchuk. “They saw the ads, they came to the library, and said, ‘You know what? I’ve had this pledge card since a year ago last spring. I’ve been meaning to come in, I’ve been discussing it with my spouse, here it is. We want to be part of this.’”

Kowalchuk said conversations the blitz volunteers had on the phone with residents, as well as discussions he, Cunningham, and chief librarian Margaret Sedgwick had with people they met on the street, “only confirmed just how important the people of Fort Frances see this new library and tech centre as being.”

Kowalchuk said the fundraising total likely will increase even more as he is expecting a number of people to bring in pledge cards to the library over the next few days. As well, he’s had a number of individuals, businesses, and organizations who, over the past two weeks, have asked that he contact them about making a donation—requests he’ll be sure to follow up on.

As previously reported, the Fort Frances Public Library and Technology Centre building committee is working on a timeline to proceed to tender in January to enable construction to begin in early spring.

The centre will be a 13,770 sq. ft., single-storey structure located at the corner of First Street East and Reid Avenue, adjacent to the Memorial Sports Centre.

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